Innovative programmes of woodland based activities for people with poor mental health.

By getting people back to nature, Branching Out helps to tackle the problems people face with anxiety, depression, isolation, and other long-term conditions. People overcome their problems together with support and teamwork out in the woods. Whether it’s through cooking food on a camp fire, building a shelter, walking, tai-chi or mindfulness, the natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for encouraging an enhanced quality of life, engagement in social activities and peer to peer support.

ACT & Branching Out

Overseen by Scottish Forestry, Branching Out is a national partnership programme between ACT, NHS Highland and community organisations providing 12-week programmes of woodland activities on referral from mental health services. ACT’s role in the project has been to establish a network across Argyll and the Isles. This provision of an area-wide umbrella organisation is unique to Argyll and has proved extremely successful. Our approach is considered nationally as an example of best practice. The success of the programme has also generated a progression programme, "Moving On", which we have also been delivering. Some graduates from the Branching Out programme are now using their new skills to volunteer within their local communities.

ACT has supported community workers, mental health professionals and project managers across Argyll to achieve the qualifications required to become Branching Out leaders.  We have been running Branching Out and Moving On programmes regularly in Mid-Argyll, Helensburgh, Oban, Cowal and Bute and are working with community mental health teams to extend our network to cover other areas, and seeking further funding to continue to provide this much needed support within our communities.


Some of the activities during Branching Out sessions


Branching Out funding

Branching Out Argyll and associated programmes has been previously funded by Scottish Forestry (Forestry Commission Scotland), the Alliance's Transforming Self-Management Fund, Bute & Cowal Integrated Care Fund and Argyll & Bute Health and Wellbeing Funds, Argyll & Bute's Supporting Communities Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund, The Robertson Trust, TSI Mental Health Fund (years 1 and 2),and we are in receipt of funding from and also working with Dunlossit and Islay Community Trust to bring some taster sessions to Islay, including set up of a fully trained Islay delivery team. We are very grateful to all our funders for their support.

If you can, please support the continuation of Branching Out in Argyll by making a donation.

Contact Branching Out

To get involved with Branching Out or to find out more, please contact Sara at: [email protected]